Ole Johan Waagø hails from Norway but is now living in Greece. Ole is flying a BELL 429 helicopter, managed by Air Business International.
Waagø began his career working as an officer in the Norwegian Navy and then spent nearly a decade in the oil field chemicals industry before he followed his dream to fly. He gained great expertise, learning to maneuver through Norway’s mountainous landscapes and how to deal with complex weather conditions. He then spent several years working as a commercial pilot. Before coming to Greece, Waagø worked in the Ukraine as a helicopter pilot where he was excited to gain experience flying a twin engine helicopter and IFR.
Waagø recently sat down with All About Aviation.gr to give us his perspective on the private aviation industry in his newly adopted country and perspective on where aviation tourism is headed.
All About Aviation.gr: What’s the most important issue in the aviation industry today, in Greece or/ and worldwide?
At the moment, Greece doesn’t have many civilian helicopter pilots. However the issue of offering a quality standard of living to pilots in Greece is a problem. I believe this is an issue worldwide as well.
To save money, aviation companies are not investing in hiring their own employees. Instead they are hiring foreign pilots so they can offer less salary and insurance and zero benefits. This ends up being a safety problem in the industry. A lack of a good standard of living could be a reason for negative incidents or accidents in the future. It might not make sense to someone who isn’t working in the aviation industry. Let me explain it this way, imagine landing an aircraft with five to 500 passengers on board and your mind is occupied with the fact that you don’t have money to feed your family or pay the rent? That is a problem. I believe that safety in all spheres must be considered.
All About Aviation.gr: Where would you like to see Greece’s aviation industry in the next five years?
I hope to see a boost in Greece’s aviation industry, but with the unstable situation I don’t think it would happen at this time.
All About Aviation.gr: How do you think the tourism industry will fare in Greece this year?
I think there will be a slight increase for tourism this year, at least at the beginning of the season. This is all dependent upon Greece’s economic and political situation. There is also the issue of migrants who arrive on Greece’s shores without some sort of decent refuge. That type of situation is unfortunate on many levels and it would turn off tourists to return. My opinion is that those unfortunate people should at least be given a place to stay.
All About Aviation.gr: The Greek Ministry of Tourism would like to extend the Greek season all year round. What do you believe needs to be done from your perspective for that to happen?
We know that Greece has economic issues so the only way to find money for touristic investments would be to turn to private and foreign investors. With their involvement it would be possible to fund important tourism related projects and maintain infrastructure related to tourism.